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FDA releases guidance to answer questions on menu labeling

The FDA Friday issued a draft guidance to clarify what establishments and types of food are covered by the menu labeling rule, how to determine calorie counts, and how and where calorie counts should be displayed.

The document, which will be available for comment, answers questions like, “What format should I use when declaring calories in a range?” and “How closely must individual portions of my standard menu items match the nutrient values that I have determined for them?”

Supermarket industry groups have opposed the FDA’s decision to include grocery stores in the menu labeling rule and have worked with members of Congress to alter the regulation for supermarkets.

In July, FDA agreed to postpone the compliance date for the rule by one year. Compliance will now be required starting Dec. 1, 2016.

Industry groups welcomed the draft document but still pushed for changes for grocery stores.

“We certainly appreciate FDA's attempt to clarify a cumbersome regulation that was not originally designed for the supermarket industry. This guidance is a helpful start to what we hope will be an ongoing dialog about the most appropriate ways of addressing implementation questions being raised by food retailers,” FMI president and CEO Leslie Sarasin said in a statement.


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“As we and Members of Congress have reminded FDA, chain restaurants and supermarkets are fundamentally different — and on issues as diverse as their business operations and their service offerings. So, we look forward to working with the agency in shaping guidance for a labeling process that makes sense both in a grocery store setting and to provide meaningful information to food retail customers.”

NGA VP of public affairs Greg Ferrara expressed similar sentiments.

“We appreciate the FDA’s efforts to provide this additional guidance. NGA is committed to working with the FDA and our members to ensure they are prepared to comply with this law; however we feel it is important for Congress to act to pass legislation that provides important fixes to the law,” Ferrara said in a statement.

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